• 5th April 2007 - By proteman

    Social networking (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter) is impacting your workplace, whether you realize it or not.

    According to a GenY article in Workforce, Gen Y’rs (born between 1979 and 1994) will number 80 million – versus about 77 million Baby Boomers and 44 million Gen X’rs. In other words, as more Boomers retire, our corporations’ cubicles and meeting rooms will be filled with young, tech-savvy workers, many of whom had MP3 players when they were six and had their own websites when they were seven. Social networking sites have become the new roller rinks of today (OK, I’m dating myself…but in my day, we “kids” went to the roller skating rink to meet, hang out and share gossip).

    Mike Gotta tackled the issue of social networking’s impact on organizations on his Collaborative Thinking blog this Tuesday. It’s a well-laid-out discussion of the issues and challenges posed by social networking on organizations.

    I agree with Gotta’s assertion that “socially oriented systems will significantly reshape organizations over the next several years.” And it is already reshaping how people are managed, trained and coached in business, whether we realize it or not.

    On the one hand, business is squeezed by growing legal and compliance pressure. For example, in our consulting practice (www.theloyaltygroup.com) we teach performance management and coaching skills, and it’s always been a struggle to get managers to record notes on employees’ performance. It’s harder than ever now, because managers (HR and Legal departments too) often are afraid to put anything in writing…as it may come back to haunt them later in a legal investigation. As a result, important notes from coaching and performance discussions don’t get noted, which means the value of feedback to employees is diluted (for lack of written details).

    At the same time, the new generation entering our workforce is accustomed to social networking sites and reality TV, where it’s completely OK to bare your soul, disclose frank (and sometimes hurtful) opinions, and share intimate thoughts in writing.

    Smart companies will need to help employees and managers balance the need for security, professionalism and privacy – with today’s technology and social networking culture. To strike the appropriate balance, companies should focus on:

    • Training both employees and their managers on how to talk directly to people (actually hold face to face conversations) rather than put every detail in writing.
    • Creating a strategy for how to incorporate social networking, blogging, instant messaging and other emerging technology into their business practices – from managing human resource issues, to managing projects across departments, to communicating with customers.
    • Communicating clear guidelines about the difference between appropriate “business writing” in the organization and inappropriate “personal writing” that should be kept outside the work environment.
    • Teaching managers and employees how to select the appropriate method (face-to-face, phone, instant message, email, blogging) of communication in day-to-day performance management (coaching, giving feedback, sharing information or conducting reviews).

    Companies that don’t pay attention to these issues will struggle with miscommunications and unhappy employees that aren’t getting the feedback and coaching they need – not to mention legal challenges.

    © 2006 The Loyalty Group. All Rights Reserved.

  • One Response to “Is "Social Networking" Impacting Performance Management at Your Company? (Maybe It Should Be…)”

    • Anonymous on April 10, 2007

      Great post. Social networking has changed the business landscape. And, as you point out so well, this has big implications for performance management.
      Great common sense ideas on performance management in today’s world.
      Bud Bilanich
      The Common Sense Guy

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